January 4 - Team Sky was launched at a glitzy ceremony in central London today with the objective of supplying a British winner of the Tour de France within five years.

The home-grown professional cycling squad is led by team principal Dave Brailsford and has recruited triple Olympic gold medal winner Bradley Wiggins as its star rider.

Wiggins, who equalled the best finish by a Briton in the Tour de France with fourth place last year, left Garmin to sign a four-year deal with Sky.

Rising star Ben Swift, 22, was also confirmed today as an addition to the team after enjoying an outstanding professional debut season in 2009.

Sky's start-up cost is reported to be £35 million with 26 riders of 12 different nationalities comprising the roster.

Brailsford said: "We started talking a long time ago about setting up a top-level British team but needed to reach a critical mass of riders to achieve it. Now here we are.

"We're ambitious but the key thing for us is to make sure everything is centred on the rider.

"We want to treat the riders with dignity and respect so that they can be the best then can be.

"People need to be motivated to get the best out of them and we want them to achieve excellence.

"Team spirit is critical to us so the personality of the riders played a big part in our recruitment."

All 26 riders cycled onto the stage at the presentation at Millbank Tower.

Wiggins (pictured) said: "It's no secret that [the Tour de France] is going to be the main goal of this team, and for us [the objective] will be to do as well as we can.

"I don't want to sound like I'm dodging the question, but without putting a number on it we'll go there with the best form of our lives, with the best team and the best team behind us, and what happens, happens."

Wiggins revealed that he will begin his 2010 season at the French race, Étoile de Bessèges,  February 3-7, after the team's first training camp, which begins this week in Valencia.

Alongside Wiggins, Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen will be one of the riders the team will work to regularly support at races.

The 22-year-old said that although aware of the expectation he will face, he is confident of his ability to produce a strong season with his new team.

He said: "I try not to think too much about the pressure and always try to do my best, which has so far worked out well for me.

"I hope it's going to be a good year.

"The team is really strong and I'm looking forward to the season start now."

Previous attempts to establish a successful British team have traditionally ended in bankruptcy with the nation's last outfit to compete in the Tour de France, Barloworld, folding in 2008.

Wiggins himself rode for the Linda McCartney Racing Team, which lasted just three years and was disbanded in 2001.

But Brailsford, British Cycling's performance director, hopes to establish Team Sky as the biggest player on the circuit with the backing of BSkyB's financial muscle.

He said: "It's not for me to judge [us against] other teams, it's how we work that will make the difference.

"The key thing for us is to make sure that everything's right [for the best performance] and that we give ownership to the riders; that they have control over what they do. We treat them with great dignity and respect, and give them the opportunity to be the best they can be."

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